Rethinking the Fundamentals of Youth Baseball

Being a youth baseball coach is a tough job. You need to teach the fundamentals of the game while introducing a quality experience that kids look forward to coming back too.

In this course we examine why the incentives in youth baseball aren't aligned correctly. There is too much emphasis on winning and not enough long term emphasis on development and fun.

Driveline orients it's youth training around 'skills that scale', specific markers that youth athletes can focus on that can help them win and develop in the long term.

Developing Skills that Scale

Coaches want to be able to spend time on what matters most, which is why we focus on the 'skills that scale'. Coaches can understand how they can focus on those skills in practice by engaging games. Along with knowing what information they can track to make the best decisions for their players.

What are the Skills that Scale?

At Driveline, we’ve summarized the skills that matter the most when it comes to finding success at the next level into what we call “The Big 3” for both hitting and pitching. To start with hitting, those three skills are:

  1. Bat speed - how fast you can swing the bat

  2. Contact quality - how often you are at making hard contact

  3. Swing decisions - how good you are at swinging at hitters’ pitches

Our training and programming decisions for collegiate and professional athletes revolve around improving one or many of these traits.

As for pitching: the three skills are:

  1. Stuff - how hard you can throw and manipulate the movement of a pitch type

  2. Command - how good you are at hitting a location and target

  3. Durability - how long and frequently can you perform at a high level

Again, our training and programming decisions for collegiate and professional athletes are predominately focused on improving one or many of these traits.

The result of all these factors is what we call the Skills that Scale, which we’ve separated into two categories: hitting and throwing.

For hitting:

  1. Bat speed

  2. Exit velocity

For throwing:

  1. Throwing velocity

  2. Hitting a target

Skills that Scale are things we can focus players’ attention on to reward their output over the specific outcome of a game.

-        Indicator of the player’s current developmental level

-        Baseline used to compare player’s training development over time

-        Baseline to confirm player’s health & fitness against in practice to a game

Youth baseball is the lowest level of competition that they’ll play, and it should be the lowest level of consequence while they focus on having fun and developing.

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • Welcome!

    • Intro to the Skills that Scale

    • Skills that Scale of Hitting

    • Skills that Scale of Throwing and Pitching

  2. 2
    • Rethinking Success in Little League Baseball - (08:11)

    • The Little League Environment - Age 5-12 - (03:06)

    • The Future Little League Environment - Ages 13+ - (02:02)

    • Parent Perspective of Little League Baseball - (04:41)

    • Balancing Winning versus Development - (04:47)

    • Rethinking Little League Success Quiz

  3. 3
    • Youth Baseball Guidelines for Ages 5-7 - Tee Ball - (5:07)

    • Youth Baseball Guidelines for Ages 6-8 - Coach Pitch - (03:43)

    • Youth Baseball Guidelines for Ages 7-10 - Kid Pitch - (04:07)

    • Youth Baseball Guidelines for Ages 8-11 - Minors Division - (01:58)

    • Youth Baseball Guidelines for Age 10-12 - Majors Division - (03:49)

  4. 4
    • Balancing Development Opportunities with the Feeling of Being Left Behind - (03:32)

    • Time with Like Minded Kids and Parents - (01:39)

    • 'Exposure' for Youth Players - (01:24)

    • Stress Testing Youth Athletes in Games - (02:03)

    • Final Thoughts on Long Term Development - (02:14)